Yesterday, my bride woke up feeling not so good in the middle of the night. It was 2:30am and my nights sleep was interrupted and over. For three hours I tried to return to rest but it wasn’t in the cards. So, when the boys showed up at a little after 6bells for our 80 miler to Utica, I had to trust my training and trust the team. Deep trust, remember, arrives when you’re tired. The same is true for teams. Teams build deep trust when they are tired – together. Always together, right FD?
Leaders understand this and purposely put their team in tiring, trust building practices. This is not some kinda ropes course team building bullshit we’ve become so enamored with either. I’m talking about the kinda practice where teammates bathe in hard truth, practice difficult conversations, and push themselves just this side of the panic zone. They get tired together.
The Kansas Jayhawks, under Bill Self, have become an example of this kinda disciplined team. “When our players have reached a point of exhaustion or deficit, I put them in tough situations where they have to band together and buy into a common goal. They have to trust and believe at these points, and they really have to concentrate to be able to make winning plays and decisions. We drill it.” Self said. He continues, “Players need to be put through it almost every day. How can we expect players to care or believe unless they have gone through tough times together? As coaches, we have to put them through those tough times so they will know what to do when they get there.”
They get tired together. The leader puts them in pressure situations as part of their preparation. Francesco Molinari, just became the first Italian to win a major in professional golf. His key, according to him, was hiring a new coach who makes him practice under pressure. He had never simulated tournament pressure in his practice routine. He does now…
Want a tougher team? Lead practice after practice after practice with your team and get them tired together. Put them under pressure. They’ll come together. The problem is this kinda discipline doesn’t have an instant reward or return on your investment. This kinda trust takes time and discipline. Few have the patience to lead these kinda practices. Fear stops them short. You see, most are too afraid to push the team to the point of exhaustion and panic.
Yesterday, as the lights went out and my legs went limp, I reminded myself that my mind is more tired than my legs. I changed my mantra from “keep working” to something shorter. I kept reminding myself to “endure.” I kept encouraging downer and jmo as I held on for dear life. The feeling of being bone tired bore into my system. Yesterday’s practice will pay dividends when under pressure in the French Alps or in some kinda team practice where my system senses pressure building beyond my capacity or the capacity of our team. Instead of panicking, we’ll settle in to the saddle, keep pedaling, and let another teammate take a turn at the front. We’ll endure.
Together we endure. Together we transform. Always together. Endure. Together. Always. Thanks, FD, for the good reminder…